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Gut-friendly Festive Recipes

Rich food and drink can leave those with a sensitive gut feeling less than merry over the festive season.

Rich food and drink can leave those with a sensitive gut feeling less than merry over the festive season. And with research* showing 48% of us either have, or have experienced, a chronic digestive problem, clearly this affects a lot of people.

But there’s no need for anyone with a sensitive gut to deny themselves delicious food at Christmas, as Dr Joan Ransley has created a new gut-friendly festive menu with recipes full of flavour, colour and gut-healthy ingredients.

Why not try our Roasted Parsnips, lentils, zhoug and spiced prune followed by Pears poached with hibiscus flowers and lemon?

As well as enjoying these delicious recipes, anyone struggling with digestive troubles this festive season can use the free Love Your Gut Digestive Health Assessment to monitor and assess symptoms.

Roasted Parsnips with Lentils, Zhoug and Spiced Prune

This dish which is coincidentally vegan, contains a range of ingredients which help promote a healthy gut including dietary fibre in the vegetables and galacto-oligoasaccharides (which gut bacteria love) in the lentils. Prunes are also useful for people who suffer from constipation as they contain both soluble and insoluble dietary fibre and a natural laxative called sorbitol.

Prep and cooking time: 40 mins

Serves 4


1kg parsnips, scrubbed

1 tsp thyme leaves chopped

5 tbsp olive oil

120ml your choice of nut milk or plant milk alternative

140g Puy lentils (or green lentils)

2 bay leaves

1 garlic clove, skin on and flattened slightly

a sprig of thyme

1 tbsp parsley, chopped

80g soft, pitted prunes, roughly chopped

Half tsp ground cinnamon

Half tsp grated nutmeg

Half tsp ground mixed spice

3 tbsp boiling water

For the zhoug

1 tbsp chopped coriander

1 tbsp chopped parsley

1 green chilli, deseeded and finely diced (optional)

1 clove garlic, crushed

Half tsp honey

2 tbsp water

To Finish: herbs such as micro parsley or purple sorrel


1) Preheat the oven to 180oC/Gas mark 4. Roughly chop half of the parsnips. Place these on a baking sheet with a little olive oil, thyme and pepper and salt and mix well.  Cut the remaining parsnips into long neat sticks measuring 10cm long. Place these on a second baking sheet with a little olive oil, thyme and pepper and salt and mix well. Roast both trays of parsnips for between 15 and 20 minutes until they are soft and golden brown. Keep an eye on each tray as you may need to move the parsnips around to ensure they cook evenly.

2) Remove from the oven and blend the roughly chopped parsnips with your choice of nut/plant milk alternative to form a thick purée. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside in a warm place. Leave the other tray of parsnips as long sticks. 

3) Meanwhile put the lentils in a pan with a litre of water, the bay leaves, garlic and thyme. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer the lentils for 15 minutes or until tender.  Drain and discard the herbs and garlic. Mix through the olive oil and parsley and season to taste.

4) Put the prunes, spices and water into the goblet of a blender and pulse to create a chunky paste. Season to taste with salt. Put the prunes, spices and water into the goblet of a blender and pulse to create a chunky paste. Season to taste with salt. 

5) To make the Zhoug. Put all the ingredients into a blender. Blitz briefly for a few seconds to keep the dressing quite rough. 

6) To serve the dish share the parsnip purée between four dishes. Add the lentils and prunes and then top with the roasted parsnip sticks. Drizzle with the zhoug and finish with the micro herbs.

Cooks Tip: You can use a sachet of ready cooked Puy lentils to save time. This dish would also be delicious served with a light vinaigrette dressing containing chopped herbs such as parsley and dill.  

Variation: Jerusalem artichokes or sweet potato can be used instead of parsnips in this recipe.

Pears pached with hibiscus flowers and lemon

The pears in this vegan dessert contain dietary fibre and polyols which can help keep the gut moving. .  

Prep and cooking time: 30 minutes

Serves 4


20g dried hibiscus flowers (from Asian stores)

zest and juice from a lemon

125g granulated sugar

4 small pears, peeled with stalks left on


1) Put the hibiscus flowers in a saucepan with 600ml of water, lemon zest and sugar and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for ten minutes by which time the sugar should have dissolved and the liquid taken on a deep red colour. Strain the liquid through a sieve and add lemon juice.  

2) Pour the hibiscus flavoured liquid into a large saucepan in which the pears can lie in a single layer. Bring the liquid to simmering point and cover with a lid. Cook the pears until they are tender. This could take between ten and twenty minutes depending on the ripeness of the pears. Check how well the pears are cooked by piercing the flesh with a sharp knife. Turn the pears while they are cooking to get an even colour. 

3) When the pears are cooked remove them from the pan with a slotted spoon and lay them on a serving dish. Boil the cooking liquid until you have about 200ml left. Check for sweetness and flavour adding a little more lemon juice or sugar if required. Leave to cool before serving the pears with the syrup.

Cooks tip: If you have time leave the pears in the cooking syrup overnight. The longer the pears are in contact with it the more deeply coloured and flavoured they will become.

Variation: Hibiscus syrup can be used as a colourful syrup for making a fruit salad with fruit that are low in FODMAPs for example: blueberries, strawberries, grapes and melon.

What do you think of these recipes? Do you have any of your own to share? 

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